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Thread: ~20" bandsaw-- Old PM vs Euro machine?

  1. #1
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    ~20" bandsaw-- Old PM vs Euro machine?

    I'm thinking it's time to upgrade from my 14" Delta bandsaw with riser block. I think the Delta is warped, I can't apply enough pressure by hand on the handwheel to properly tension the blade, if I torque on it with a wrench the top wheel hits the sheet metal case, probably not good.

    I've been doing more re-sawing for bookmatched panels and making thick veneers and would like to be able to more shaping of logs prior to putting them on the lathe. Having a bigger table and a much more substantial and readily adjustable fence would be big goals of an upgrade. I'd like a lot more power for resawing. Finally, good dust collection and a brake would be very nice to have.

    I have not put hands on any of the saws that I'm thinking about at this point.

    Since I'm cheap I've been watching Craigslist religiously for a good used machine, but I'm not sure which direction to go. There have been several recent listings for older (green) Powermatic machines ranging from $1500-2500. There have been a couple SCM MM20 machines in the $3500-4000 range. There have been Grob saws that are older but look substantial in the $2K range. There was a Centauro a couple weeks ago that looked interesting. Not yet seen anything from Felder/Hammer.

    It seems that going from the Powermatic to one of the Euro saws will jump the price by $1-2K, more if I go for a new European model. At this point I have a fairly strong prejudice towards a North American or European saw (I'm in love with my MiniMax J/P). Everything I've heard about the vacillating service from Laguna has put me off that line. For those of you who might have had the chance to use both sorts of saws, what are the tradeoffs?

  2. #2
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    What I happen to like about the Euro bandsaws is that very stiff welded steel frame...they can take the tension. Big, old cast iron is nice, too, but you need to find one that hasn't been beat to death. The MM20 and the Centauro (both made by the latter) are great machines, IMHO. I have the smaller MM16 and it's a great tool. Brian H has the larger MM20 (newer generation) and it's a "beast"...doesn't blink at tall, hard stuff one bit. I had a piece of 16" tall white oak over at his shop awhile back that ai needed sliced (it was too big for my saw) and it was like cutting butter...and dead accurate.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #3
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    rockwell or powermatic 20" saw should be under $1,000. or maybe $1,500 if variable speed with a welder. If they do not have a transmission make sure they run fast enough for wood and are not a metal only saw. Grob is a top brand but older models have a ton of belts to shift speeds.
    Bil lD

  4. #4
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    If you want a machine for primarily resawing, get a machine made to do that. Metalworking saws are slow running and generally run low tension blades. The best bang for the buck may be a 24" Centauro or ACM saw with a three phase motor. They tend to be priced the lowest used and a vfd will add about 300-400 to the cost. The MM 16 ( later model ) or 20 will tension for resawing but they tend to be priced higher on the used market as they are single phase and everyone is looking for one. The ACM, Felder, Bridgewood, certain Laguna machines are also an option. 20" is the smallest I'd go but the 24x17 are the sweet spot for resawing and tension. The three phase will be the best deal. Old cast iron saws that are great at resawing generally start in the 30" range. There are a few 24" cast iron machines but the 30" is much more common. The 20" cast iron saws were not designed as resaws so I don't consider them as an alternative to the 30". Dave

  5. #5
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    If you're talking about the model 81 bandsaw most only have a 12" resaw capacity. However Powermatic did make a few model 81s with 24". Most seam to be 2hp and most likely 3 phase. But I did come across several that were 1hp and even one that was 5hp. In the end I didn't go with a Model 81 simply because of parts. They are heavy and one mistake moving it could lead to a broken table or trunnion. There's plenty of used parts out there if you don't mind searching. I just didn't want to spend time repairing a tool.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Dufour View Post
    rockwell or powermatic 20" saw should be under $1,000. or maybe $1,500 if variable speed with a welder. If they do not have a transmission make sure they run fast enough for wood and are not a metal only saw. Grob is a top brand but older models have a ton of belts to shift speeds.
    Bil lD
    In our market, having been looking on and off for the better part of 10 years now, I've never seen one priced that low unless it has been trashed. I'm not willing to buy a machine where I have to spend a month scrubbing rust off-- I already have too many hobbies, I need to leave rescuing old iron to others.

  7. #7
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    Resawing is something that I only do from time to time-- to date I've been doing it on my 14" delta, which is clearly suboptimal, but can be made to work, albeit painfully. Though if it were a lot easier and more successful I'd probably do it more.

    I do all kinds of projects in my shop, from antique restoration, to furniture building, to the occasional kitchen/bathroom cabinet, to woodturning. Lately I've been building Greene and Greene style furniture with lots of curved elements, and am starting to think seriously about making an organ. I turn while I'm stuck on other projects and need time to think them through, so I spend a lot of time at the lathe. So I think I need a saw that may not be perfect for any given task but will have capability to do a wide range of tasks reasonably well.

  8. #8
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    IRS has an auction with a couple bandsaws right next to you. There's a Poitras 24" that will most likely sell for cheap. They are no longer in business so people usually don't bid the price up. They are made in Canada and were bought out by General. I think they sold equipment with and without motors so the end user could put what they wanted on the tool.

  9. #9
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    I'm guessing you've bent the tracking hinge on the top wheel on you 14" Delta. They are notorious for that, the weakest link that Delta never improved over all the decades they made that machine.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Coers View Post
    I'm guessing you've bent the tracking hinge on the top wheel on you 14" Delta. They are notorious for that, the weakest link that Delta never improved over all the decades they made that machine.
    This ^^^...

    The footprint of the Delta 14 is nearly ideal for most shops. For less than the outlay for a replacement, an attempt to repair might be worthwhile.
    (It will be tough to resell, as it is.)

    A fresh blade and auxiliary table might do wonders.

    I owned and sold a MM20 which required 240 vAC power,
    was ponderous to work around (too tall for my basement, it could only fit in my garage) and was a PITA to move for brief projects.

    If it was my money (and it isn't - none of us should presume to tell you what to buy) I would remove the riser block and put a 1/2" or 3/8" fine tooth blade on the Delta and use whatever comes with the Jet 18" when on-sale.

    Factor the cost of shipping into purchases.

  11. #11
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    I have a Delta with riser block and a bigger motor that I spent way to much money on hoping to Resaw when I was done. I also have a Centauro CO 600 that I spent less on and it is an amazing saw. Huge table,3hp three phase motor and I can Resaw 14'' high after replacing the guides with carter guides. I use this saw to break down rough lumber on one side of my shop ,it sits right next to my jointer and planer. Most solid wood work begins on these three machines at my shop. Rips and Resaws very well all without wasting as much wood .I purchased this machine for short money and replaced all bearings and painted as well as fabricating some parts. Well worth it. Also took about five years to find it. Good luck in your search.

  12. #12
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    Is this the "tracking hinge" you're talking about? I'd be very happy to fix my saw no matter what I end up doing with it. I may well be using it for a while!

    s-l640.jpg

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by roger wiegand View Post
    Is this the "tracking hinge" you're talking about? I'd be very happy to fix my saw no matter what I end up doing with it. I may well be using it for a while!

    s-l640.jpg
    Yes that is it.

  14. #14
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    It might be worth your time to log into owwm.org (old woodworking machines), where there is a lot of discussion about older cast iron bandsaws. They take up more physical space than the modern steel frame (Centaro etc that have been mentioned) but do a great job. Bandsaws have been around a long time and really have not changed much. I have a 26" Moak that I paid 1100 for, essentially $1/lb, 15" under the guides. It's been a good machine. I have not resawed often, but did all the 1/4 panels for the interior cubbies of a secretary. If you have the floor space, don't discount the old iron.
    Terry T.

  15. #15
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    I will keep looking, I'm open to older saws. I should visit OWWM more often. We always have 3-4 36" Tannewitz (sp?) saws listed on CL, but I really don't have the space or overhead clearance for one of those. Smaller ones in the 18-24" range seem much more rare. I've seen beautiful older saws but they are often pretty lacking for safety equipment (like guards) and have no provision for dust collection.

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